Hair pulling encompasses all scenarios in which a person's hair is pulled.
In a fight
Hair pulling is a technique when two people get into a physical fight and want to hurt their opponent. Stereotypically it is found especially in fights among children and women.
In punishment and domestic violence
As a technique for light corporal punishment, an authority figure takes hold of a handful of their charge's hair and pulls it, causing pain on the scalp without actually tearing the hair out. The person can also use that grip to force their charge to walk, stand up, sit down, etc. It is similar to ear pulling, but more associated with violence. Hair pulling is common in domestic violence.
A humorous cartoon cliché is that of a caveman dragging a woman by her long hair after having beaten her over the head with a big club.
Erotic hair pulling
As a gesture of despair
Pulling one's own hair is a gesture of stress or despair in many cultures. The action can perhaps be explained as an attempt to muffle an intense sudden emotional suffering by causing a sharp but non-harmful physical pain to divert one's attention.
As an impulse control disorder
Trichotillomania, also known as hair pulling disorder, is an impulse control disorder characterised by a long term urge that results in the pulling out of one's hair. This occurs to such a degree that hair loss can be seen.
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